Grad Research: Julie Kantor’s Poetry Featured in Boston Review

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Exciting news from our graduate community: Julie Kantor has just published a series of poems in the latest issue of The Boston Review. We asked Julie about her work; here’s what she had to say:

The sampler of poems appearing in the current issue of The Boston Review is a selection from my first collection of poems, The Beautiful West. The voice of these poems is searching for a way to speak to the marks left on the self by the self and others without resorting to the silence, or madness, so often a result of loss. Without even realizing, I reached back into Ancient Egyptian culture–their contributions to quotidian life in conjunction with the ornate rituals and traditions related to death–to intertwine it with modern life, the separation between blurred into one long existence; the way we allow ourselves to be tortured for love, to accept another’s pain as our own, to hurt those we love to remain unchanged in the righteousness of our wronging is nothing new.

While I keep my art, and my process to myself–separate and safe from influence–my commitment to invention through connection in my writing is what lead me to American Studies. Though I don’t often let the two sides run on the same reel, they are concurrent; a mind can be ignored, but not gotten away from.

You can read the full collection here.

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Alumni Voices: Author Kevin Smokler

Kevin Smokler received his MA in American Studies in 2000. He is the author of “Practical Classics: 50 Reasons to Reread 50 Books You Haven’t Touched Since High School.” (Feb. 2013). His criticism and essays have appeared in the LA Times, The San Francsico Chronicle, Fast Company, the Believer and NPR. He’s currently at work on a memoir about being a music fan with lousy taste. He has 65,000 twitter followers at @weegee, the subject of his American Studies Masters Thesis.

How is the work that you’re doing right now informed by the work that you did as a student in American Studies at UT?

I’m a nonfiction book author focusing on music, film and literature and its place in our rapidly changing 21st century. Which means a novel, album, band, filmmaker, or movement are always a gumbo pot of ingredients from linguistics, to political science, to economic history and critical theory. Those things pre-mixed, like gumbo, scream American Studies to me.

And selfishly, what gets me out of bed in the morning as an American is not the constitution or baseball or modern dentistry or the folding umbrella or the Internet, all righteous and wonderful things invented right here in this country. No, it’s American culture, in all its beautiful diversity and flavors and contradictions.

Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for students in our department about how to get the most out of their time here?

It’s a big beautiful country out there and an archive can only take you so far. So learn how to talk to people. Real people, strangers even. Don’t be afraid of the weird, confused look someone might give you when explaining your research interests but don’t be resigned to it either. Learn to talk about your work in plain old English. Whatever it is, it’s too valuable to be passed around amongst your peers or even your discipline or the academy itself. Let it breathe. Let it have a life.